As corporates seek outcomes, health becomes business

17/11/2014 - 11:57

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Not-for-profit groups are taking advantage of the increased focus on health and wellness.

NATION LEADING: Nick Nation is leading Diabetes WA’s HealthSmart Solutions program. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Not-for-profit groups are taking advantage of the increased focus on health and wellness.

Growing recognition of the importance of workplace wellness has created new business opportunities, particularly among not-for-profit groups with expertise in health-related fields.

For example Diabetes WA, the Asthma Foundation of WA, and Holyoake have all won consultancy contracts with outcomes-focused corporates seeking to improve the health of their employees.

The opportunity for those not-for-profits has come at a good time as the competition for funding, both philanthropic and from government, becomes more fierce.

Diabetes WA launched its program focused on helping corporates educate and guide staff on healthy living as a strategy to diversify its income.

It has calculated productivity losses due to diabetes amount to about $560 million per year in WA, creating a strong business case for improvements.

Nick Nation, program coordinator of Diabetes WA advisory service HealthSmart Solutions, told Business News he was struck by the strong demand for services that could help prevent health-related losses.

“We found that people were crying out for the services that we offer … and we found that workplaces and community groups were willing to pay for the services that we would normally provide to people living with diabetes,” Mr Nation said.

Those services are largely based around education on nutritional eating and physical activity, but Mr Nation said businesses’ expectations had matured and there was now demand to prove results from such programs.

“We’ve realised that we need to partner with businesses over the long term to show some significant results in health and then be able to prove that a healthy workforce is, firstly, a faithful workforce, but also prove that you’re going to have less injury and illness in general,” he said.

To help deliver proof of that return on investment, Mr Nation said HealthSmart Solutions had established an evaluation team to guide businesses in ways to measure results.

Clients have included Woodside, Chevron and the Department of Finance.

The Asthma Foundation of WA also recently stepped into the corporate sphere with consultancy services to help companies become ‘asthma friendly’.

Chief executive David McLeod said the focus was initially on first aid training for respiratory emergencies, but employers were also becoming more attuned to creating healthy environments, which included assessing furniture and air conditioning systems that may trigger asthma.

“We regularly conduct training sessions for schools, child care centres and other health professionals all over WA, however as there is an increased awareness of first aid in the workplace, we are now seeing more and more employers being proactive about asthma management,” Mr McLeod said.

Addiction services provider Holyoake has been working with corporate clients to provide education on drug and alcohol abuse.

It has now formed a partnership with mental health consultancy Blooming Minds and long-time provider of employee assistance programs Centrecare Corporate so the three organisations can refer clients to each other.

Blooming Minds and Centercare Corporate are both for-profit businesses and are connecting with many others looking to leverage the focus on worker health for profit.

Human Resources consultancy Circa HR Solutions, for example, was co-founded by Tanja Coyne in 2011 out of recognition that employers needed to take more of a focus on employee wellness.

Circa provides outsourced HR, but has worked to set itself apart from competition by putting employee health and wellness at the core of its work.

Ms Coyne said the business had grown steadily in its three years of operation as clients realised the productivity benefits from having healthy staff.

“I think there needs to be more of a focus on employee wellness; it was being done in some elements such as an employee assistance program, but it would be nice to see companies lead with that focus on employee health,” Ms Coyne said.

Meanwhile, health insurer HBF has been cementing its role as a source of guidance for corporates and has recently launched a new program targeting men’s health.

Alcoa, the Shire of Capel and the Department of Culture and the Arts have participated in the new program, which is intended to raise awareness among blue and white-collar males around cardiovascular and mental health.


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